Canada-theme at PNE

The Fair at the PNE will be celebrating Canada's 150th birthday when events begin Saturday. 

"We have a number of attraction, whether it be iconic Canadia ... to actual displays and exhibits dedicated to the 150th celebration", said Laura Ballance, media relations with the PNE. "Many of our festival park area acts will also be themed for Canada 150." 

Ballance also referenced the Canada showcase which will be ongoing at The Fair, saying "it’s a reflection of a cultural mosaic.

"And I think one of the highlights of this year’s (event) will be kaleidoscope on parade, which is a celebration of Canada 150 and it’s a very whimsical, pro-Canada themed parade," Ballance said, adding that the parade will take place every day.

Other key attractions Ballance noted were the summer night concert series, the RCMP musical ride, and the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit, which will be the "largest exhibit that they’ve ever had outside of the actual Hall of Fame". 

The Fair will run from Aug. 19 until Sept. 4, and will be closed for Aug 21. and Aug. 28. 

Organizers are anticipating approximately 700,000 visitors to the two-week event. Last year's attendance saw 712,367 visitors turn out. 


Police issue groper alert

Vancouver Police are warning the public after four women were groped on the city's seawall. 

On Friday, police received three separate reports between 9 and 9:45 p.m. of women who were assaulted by a man riding by on a bicycle. The women were walking in the Yaletown and Granville Island areas.

One woman was knocked to the ground during the assault.

A fourth woman was sexually assaulted near Cornwall and Cypress streets on Sunday.

The women all range in age from their late twenties to late thirties, and were all walking on or near the seawall. 

The man is described as being in his twenties to early thirties, five feet nine inches tall, with a slim build. He has darker skin with black hair in a short buzz-cut, and was riding a dark-coloured bicycle.

Investigators believe there is at least one other woman who was groped and has yet to come forward.

Anyone who may have witnessed the assaults is asked to call Vancouver Police at 604-717-0603 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Winds threaten to fan fires

The weather forecast calls for a cold front, bringing gusty winds that could inflame B.C. wildfires that had stabilized this week.

Kevin Skrepnek with the BC Wildfire Service says two of the largest fires in the Thompson Nicola and Cariboo regions have seen little growth since Wednesday.

But he says the change in weather, which does not promise significant rain where it's needed most, will likely make the fires more aggressive.

A risk of thunderstorms into the weekend will also bring lightning, which Skrepnek says can set off more fires particularly in the southern and central parts of the province that remain extremely dry.

Robert Turner with Emergency Management BC says officials are working to decide whether a provincial state of emergency declaration, which expires Friday, should be extended.

Skrepnek says four new fires started Wednesday but crews acted quickly and prevented them from spreading, unlike the major wildfires sparked in early July that continue to expand.

"I think it's important to note we are still seeing new initial attack fires every day and we're having a huge degree of success on them," he said.

Although new fires have been less destructive, Skrepnek said people are still urged to prevent human-caused fires by respecting the campfire ban in place for most of the province, not using off-road vehicles in the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres, and obeying restrictions in the Cariboo backcountry.


Don't mess with momma

Martial arts training might not be the first thing a daycare worker would list on a resume, but six youngsters are safe because the operator of their preschool used those skills this week.

Chelsi Sabbe, the owner of a licensed daycare in Prince George, says she reacted Tuesday when a man allegedly tried to grab two children in her care.

Sabbe said Thursday she was concerned when she saw a man approaching two children playing in a park. When a four-year-old boy was snatched, she began screaming and leaped on the man's back.

"I wasn't letting him get away with one of those kids," said Sabbe, whose father was a martial arts instructor.

Sabbe said she managed to free the boy and urged him and the other children to safety, but the man then grasped the arm of a second boy. He punched her as she rushed forward again, she said.

She said she pulled the man by the hair, kneed him in the face and then held him in a headlock until she was certain the children were safe.

The fight caught the attention of a neighbour, who called police. RCMP said when they arrived, a man fled through a baseball field, where he was arrested.

Shortly after the arrest, police received a report of an earlier abduction attempt just a few blocks away. A man had tried to grab a boy who was with his mother, but the woman managed to get her son back and returned home, police said.

A 35-year-old man from Prince George has been charged with two counts of kidnapping, and one count each of assault and obstructing a peace officer.

"I love my daycare children like I love my own children, and if somebody is trying to harm them and you are given no other (option), that is my own defence mechanism," said Sabbe.

Trick-or-treat deer rescue

Conservation officers have rescued a deer on Vancouver Island that had a plastic jack-o-lantern stuck on its muzzle. 

Officers in Sooke were able to sedate the animal and remove the pink Halloween bucket.

The rescue mission likely saved the animal from a "slow and painful death," the conservation service said.

Homeowners are advised to store away items such as this to prevent incidents with wildlife.

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island

Riding against gunfire

The B.C. Sikh motorcycle club is sending a message in Surrey.

Nearly 100 bikers took part in a ride through the city on Wednesday, in an effort to bring unity against recent gun violence, namely three shootings that occurred in less than 12 hours last week and an ongoing drug trade war that has seen gunfire for at least a year.

The bikers advocated that officials need to be accountable for growing violence, and to make extra efforts to keep children safe.

While the provincial government was forced to respond to the inordinate string of violence last week, local RCMP said that violence in Surrey is actually down 39 per cent compared to this time last year, which they credit to long-term strategies.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Tug rammed at full speed

The Transportation Safety Board says a six-to-eight-second absence from the controls of a tug boat caused the sinking of another tug off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

A safety board report says the captain of the C.T. Titan left the tug going while he moved from the upper bridge to the wheelhouse and by the time he reached the controls, the boat had veered towards the vessel Albern.

The Titan's master attempted to transfer propulsion control to the wheelhouse, but the report says he couldn't do so in time and the 15-metre tug rammed the much smaller vessel in May 2016.

The nine-metre Albern capsized and sank in the waters near Nanaimo, temporarily trapping its two crew members under the water until they could escape and swim to the surface.

The report concludes the Titan veered to port because of misaligned rudders putting it on a collision course with the other tug and that the master couldn't gain control in time to prevent the crash.

Both tugs are owned by Jones Marine Group, which hired a consulting firm to conduct a safety management analysis. Its masters and deckhands have attended a training course on safe working practices.

Searching for missing men

The search for two men missing south of Revelstoke continues, more than two weeks after their disappearance.

Jared Szabo, 29, and Allan Ellsworth, 53, were last seen near the Beaton and Trout Lake areas, respectively, near the start of the month.

While police will not “conclusively state” the missing men are connected in any way, friends and family on a Facebook page set up to help find Szabo appear to believe the two were together.

“No doubt those two got together and were on an adventure, Al is always game for that,” wrote Brian Lacey.

Two weekends ago, police found Szabo's pickup submerged in Fish River, but were unable to reach it due to the high water. On Aug. 10, RCMP gave permission to Galena Contractors to build a road to the truck and remove it.

The missing men were not found inside the truck.

RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says police are currently conducting a mechanical inspection on the truck “to determine why it left the road.”

Police don't believe there were any suspicious circumstances that led to the disappearances.

Search and rescue crews, police, friends and family members continue to search the area, although Moskaluk says the police search has been “scaled back from what it was.”

Some friends and family are camped out near the mouth of Fish River, and are searching the waters by boat, kayak and paddleboard.

MP's son eyes council

A Vancouver community advocate will make a second attempt to win a city council seat for the Green party.

Pete Fry is the son of longtime member of Parliament Hedy Fry, and he's been acclaimed as the Green party of Vancouver candidate for a byelection in October.

If successful, he would join sole Green politician Adriane Carr, who is among the city's 10 councillors — five representing the Vision Vancouver party and three elected under the Non-Partisan Association banner.

Fry says in a news release that there is a lot more the Green party can do for Vancouver with another member assisting Carr.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Greens in the city's 2014 civic election and lost to the New Democrats in a 2015 provincial byelection to replace Jenny Kwan when she was elected federally.

Anti-poverty advocate Jean Swanson will run as an independent in the October campaign while civic activist Judy Graves seeks a nomination later this month in a byelection to replace Geoff Meggs, who resigned to become the new premier's chief of staff.

How low can thieves get?

Some low-down thieves looted a grieving father's vehicle as he said goodbye to his dying daughter.

Peter Short was at his daughter Kira's bedside at Canuck Place children’s hospice in Vancouver, Monday, when the thieves struck.

Kira had an inoperable tumour on her spine and died Tuesday morning.

"She was in a lot of pain and said ‘dad, I'm so tired, I want to go to sleep. Wake me up when we can go camping,’” Short told CTV. “That was the last thing she said to me.”

When the exhausted and emotional Maple Ridge father left the hospice, he found the door to his Jeep Grand Cherokee open and the contents looted.

His wife’s purse and a boat motor were stolen, but worst of all, drawings and paintings made by Kira were gone, along with rocks with the words “hope” and “miracle” engraved on them.

“I just don’t understand, these things aren’t worth anything to anyone but us,” Short said.

Friends are rallying around the family with a GoFundMe page to help support them in their time of grief. As of this morning, it had raised more than $32,000.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Unpaid pot fines top $1M

Unpaid fines issued to unlicensed Vancouver marijuana dispensaries have topped $1 million.

Bylaw officers have issued 2,004 tickets worth $1.2 million, the city says.

Spokesman Jag Sandhu says the city has collected only $160,000 of that money. 

Coun. Kerry Jang says dispensary are simply refusing to pay.

“It’s gotten to the point where we’ve had to file court injunctions,” he told CTV. “The problem that we’ve had is that the courts haven’t made time to hear the injunctions.”

Some have been languishing for more than a year. But it's not about the money, he says.

“For us, the real win is when these illegal pot shops close.”

Vancouver began regulating dispensaries in 2015, and the fine for operating without a licence is $1,000.

Out of 176 applications, 10 licences have been granted. 

“Marijuana does have a place in Vancouver … but it has to be sold according to some rules,” Jang said. 

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Float plane flips in lake

A float plane overturned Wednesday during a hard landing on Comox Lake on Vancouver Island.

Witnesses say the small plane skipped hard off the water and flipped upside down.

"It bounced off the water, hit again and then after it hit it took a nosedive and flipped over," witness Mike Slota told CTV.

The pilot scrambled out of the aircraft and appeared to be uninjured.

Boaters rushed over to help, and firefighters say the aircraft did not appear to be leaking fuel.

Transport Canada is expected to investigate.

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island

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